BOTĀ SIṄGH (d. 1739), an eighteenth century martyr of the Sikh faith, belonged to the village of Bhaṛāṇā in Amritsar district. In those days of dire persecution, he along with many fellow Sikhs had sought the safety of wastes and jungles. At nightfall, he would come out of his place and visit some human habitations in search of food. Occasionally he would come to Amritsar by night to have a dip in the holy tank, spending the day in the wilderness around Tarn Tāran. One day he was noticed by some people who thought he was a Sikh. But one of the party said that he was not a Sikh, for had he been one he would not conceal himself thus. The taunt cut Botā Siṅgh to the quick. Accompanied by his companion Garjā Siṅgh, a Raṅghreṭā Sikh, and with a bamboo club in his hand, he took up position on the grand trunk road, near Sarāi Nūr ud-Dīn, near Tarn Tāran. To announce his presence and proclaim the sovereignty of the Khālsā, he started collecting toll from the passers-by. Finding everyone submitting tamely to his authority, he sent a communication to the provincial governor himself. The words of the letter, as preserved in Punjabi folklore, were :


        Chiṭṭhī likhī Siṅgh Botā :

        Hath hai soṭā,

        Vich rāh khalotā

        Ānnā lāyā gaḍḍe nū,

        Paisā lāyā khotā.

        Ākho Bhābī Khāno nū,

        Yoṅ ākhe Siṅgh Botā.


        Botā Siṅgh writes this letter :

        With a big club in hand,

        On the road do I stand.

        I levy an ānnā on a cart

        And a pice on a donkey.

        This, tell your sister, khāno, who is my sister-in-law,

        Is what Bota Siṅgh declares.


         The wife of the Mughal governor is burlesqued here using her popular name "Khāno. " Botā Siṅgh calls her his bhābī, i. e. brother's wife with whom one could take liberties.

        Zakarīyā Khān, the governor, sent a contingent of one hundred horses under Jalāl Dīn to arrest Botā Siṅgh alive and bring him to Lahore. Jalāl Dīn asked Botā Siṅgh and Garjā Siṅgh to surrender and accompany him to Lahore, promising to secure them the governor's pardon. Botā Siṅgh and his comrade spurned the offer and fell fighting valiantly against heavy odds. This happened in 1739.


  1. Bhagat Lakshman Singh, Sikh Martyrs. Madras, 1928
  2. Chhibbar, Kesar Siṅgh, Baṅsāvalīnāmā Dasāṅ Pātshāhīāṅ Kā. Chandigarh, 1972
  3. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prāchīn Paṅth Prakāsh. Amritsar, 1914

Bhagat Siṅgh